Water is the ingredient that nurtures, for like the womb, the Earth and the Universe, the element of water, nourishes the entities within it, providing warmth, sensitivity, comfort and security. The child that lacks nurture in the early stages of development, suffers a strong thirst. This deprivation of water or nurture stems from the origins or the roots of life. We can observe the water element by its versatility to change from ice to liquid and to gas, providing the necessities of life; air to breathe, water to drink, and ice to cool. We can also measure water in the realm of reality. When we think of the mother, we associated the image with the compassion and nurture that she brings to her infant. The protection that the mother innately has for her child, is the symbology of shelter associated to the Astrology sign of Cancer, which represents the mother is directly related to the moon and its effects on the water tides. If the child does not receive the watering of nurture, it will be deficient in its adulthood. Just as, if you do not water your plant, it will brittle up, dry out, losing its potential of full bloom. As humans, we are nature. Using our connection to nature, we can reverse damaged areas through the act of self-nurture. This occurs when we are thirsty enough to water our own roots, applying nourishment, we recognize where nourishment was omitted in infancy. We then create a new Life, or Life-style that will fill us with security. Providing for anything to build upon its strong foundation. Water brings life.
THIRSTY ROOTS: THE RISE OF CURL CULTURE
“Your experience in America is unlike anybody else’s.”
– U. Johnson
Curl Culture stems from the desire to thrive, rather than survive societal standards. For the first time in history, this specific, yet large group of women are learning how to embrace their natural hair by undergoing a process called ‘going natural’. Literally, women who have lived full lives, are embracing this process, often calling it a ‘Hair Journey’ or ‘HJJ’. They are seeing their ‘natural’ hair for the first time in years. Can you imagine not seeing one part of your body for decades? The JOURNEY to embrace their hair, may give way to a new trend of thinking, and a mentality that digs deep into their roots.
While this may appear to be a superficial observation of Beauty & Hair Trends, it is more meaningful beyond the surface. The camera lens does not focus on the story behind their development. These women have gone under the radar. This process has been psychologically, transformative. With a history that consists of hundreds of years of enslavement, they have been stripped away from the knowledge of their origins. And what lays visibly on their shoulders is a new knowledge of who they are. An answer that may reveal where they came from. Through this documentation of the Curl Culture movement, we learn that beauty is beyond skin deep. It dives down to the core of self-acceptance. The question arises, if there was once a time, where they could not accept their own hair, what else could it be that they have not accepted?
The rise of Curl Culture is beyond trending.
It is an invisible force,
out of the waters she is birthed.
A new paradigm for the Earth.
The Cycle of ignorance is breaking…
It is not just the acceptance of the perm, but most importantly the acceptance of the look of ‘Straight Hair’ that is normal within the majority of the community of curly hair women. And women who begin to embrace their natural hair, find resistance from those who reside in their own environment. It is difficult enough to face the political and corporate world with your new look, but to have to come home to your family members and be bombarded with ignorant comments about your hair, displays how deep the conditioning goes. When it comes to Straight Hair, it has become ‘normal’ within the confines of our territory and within psyche of naturally curly haired women. And as these naturally loving woman return to their roots, they learn about themselves. They break free from the chains of the pressure of society. As they thirst for the knowledge of who they are.
KINKY CURLY hair is ‘too tough’ and ‘too hard to handle’, is a false concept due to the dominance of Straight Hair Care Education. The false truths of KINKY CURLY being ‘rough’ or ‘unkept’ in society is due to the dominance of linear understanding. They only know how to take care of straight hair. In the family and in the beauty industry, the knowledge of how to care and style naturally kinky, curly hair has been hidden. For this reason, generations of women of color have chosen to perm their hair and their daughter’s hair. Younger girls getting their hair permed has become a normal hair tradition. The natural hair movement paves a new nurturing practice, providing an opportunity for young girls to be influenced by their mother’s to teach them about their natural hair. Creating a cycle of bonding and nurturing that had once been omitted.
The History of our hair originates back to the motherland, the (water) land. The land where our ancestors, those who came before us, lived in hot climates. They were the people of the Sun. The essential difference between Curly and Straight hair, is due to origins of our original climate. Heat dominated the climate of the original people, where skin color is darker due to high exposure to the Sun. This requires the scalp to retain water in order to stay cool. Thus, the scalp ‘holds’ the water to keep itself cool in hotter climates. Therefore the follicle is oval shape. The curlier the hair, the more flatter oval the follicles are due to the severity of the heat. Hair strands that grow out of oval-shaped follicles creates coils and this is due to the relationship to the hot climate. The sebum (natural oil of the scalp) does not travel down the hair strand and this is why curly hair is susceptible to dryness. Curly hair is hydrophilic. It loves water.
As it is documented, a group of humans separated and moved into colder temperature environments. This resulted in the production of straight hair. The colder temperatures open the hair follicles producing a Circular – shape. Circle shape follicles produces straight hair. Straight hair allows for maximum length. Straight hair gets oilier than curly hair, as the sebum travels down the hair shaft easier, allowing the hair to moisturize & thicken. Thus, weighing the hair down & creating a thick cover to protect the neck from the cold weather.
In CURL Culture, we often see women obsess over curl pattern. Hair Typing has become a trend that women are anxious over due to the mystery of their texture they will discover.
If there was no history that included slavery, it is very possible that Hair perms could detach from its reputation of being psychologically harmful. But in truth, it is both psychologically and physically harmful. Hair perm or relaxer, is a product that breaks down and ‘relaxes’ the protein bonds of the hair to transform it to from curly to straight. Harsh ingredients with high alkaline levels, are used to break down these hair bonds which often leads to scalp burns if left on too long. Protein helps cells to repair and regenerate. Protein is associated with strength. Therefore, the protein manipulation of the hair strands breaks down the ‘strength’ of the hair. The entire concept of the perm concludes to break down bonds and strength.
Each brave soul, who dares to be different, which really is choosing to be themselves, will have to face adversity for they confront the final remnants of slavery mentality within the community. Slavery mentality is an injection of inferiority. It often results in a psyche of self-hate. The practice of self-hate is typically a subconscious one that comes out in expressions of fear. The psyche that was implanted into our great-grands who built this country, were under attack. Yes, they were under physical attack, they were beaten and chained. But most importantly, the actions committed unto them were of a permanent, psychological nature. They were separated and killed in front of their families. Stripped of their spirituality, traditions, and language. Where once they knew that their hair locks were glorified as antennas to the Gods, they were trained to forget. They were considered as animals and their hair was referred to as ‘wool’. They were in malnourished conditions and had no ability to nurture their hair, only to survive. They often developed practices that were a significator of their survival. They greased the hair to protect them from the bugs and protect them from their environment. Once allowed to integrate into “civilized” society, it was also a move of survival. For the society that was deemed “civilized”, was once the very people who treated them with the utmost incivility.
When The 1960’s and 70’s gave the revolution, the Afro became popular, but not their demands. That was too far. The rise of ‘pro-Black’ was seen as a ‘threat’. Even though, they were the ones who were once enslaved, they were seen as the threat. That is an ironic conclusion. The 1980s only brought more ‘threats’ from the conscious movement. ‘Threats’ of being too Afrocentric and too violent. As the hairstyles became more versatile they were categorized as being political, rebellious and eventually ‘thuggish’. Cornrows began to be associated with criminal behavior as the crime rates began to grow in the community due to the rise of heroin and crack use. All of which was reflected in the media. They were creating a new culture, but it seemed to become less of a need to stay natural. Just as much as Rap music and drugs began to take over the media, the image of the Natural Hair female dwindled.
The Media influences the Culture. It is common to associate a woman of color in a scarf to a home maid or a slave. In fact, it is the slave presence in film and movies is rather overabundant. ‘AUNT JEMIMA’ is a caricature that stems from a food product, but also conditioning as a certain type of look for a woman of color. And dear old Hattie McDaniel was the first to be successful in film. She was often depicted as a housemaid with her signature scarf. The question arises of whether an individual can separate the cultural conditioning from the images of the caricatures. Truly, using a scarf can be a beautiful, sexy expression in your hair, but it takes breaking the conditioning to embrace the possibilities.
The most successful celebrities are perpetuating the acceptance of straight hair through the use of weaves and perms. The Dominance of Perms on women of color in the Media is as present as ever before. Majority of popular shows depict women of color wearing perms. While their counterparts will depict the natural hairstyles of curly women.
What is the subconscious message when the term states ‘FLAWLESS’ and it is a woman of color that does not have natural hair?
Or what does the overabundance of ‘slave movies’ like 12 years a Slave and The Color Purple that continuously perpetuate the image of curly vs straight?
think about it.
The availability of roles available for actors of color are limited to specific caricatures. This is due to the dominant perpetuation of the dominant Eurocentric Media, and those who still desire to be integrated within it. When we look up the Media in our Pop Culture, we see that there is a very distinct depiction of women of color. We see two types very often driven by chains or sexuality. Both with very specific imaging when it comes to our hair.
The connection of image to the mind is a thoroughly studied subject. We are finally making the connections of how the Music and Media can have profound effects on our psyche. As we move forward, new and alternate forms of media are also becoming options for young revolutionaries. Youtube has been taken over, providing a gateway to young entrepreneurs of African descent and kinky curly coils to provide alternate media for the community.
“Movies are highly complex, multidimensional stimuli”
Youtubers are the future entrepreneurs, paving the way for the growth of wealth in the community. As wealth is seeded by an idea so simple, yet proves to be a symbol of revolution.
Hundreds of thousands of Curly Youtube, Hair Guru / Entrepreneurs, flood the internet daily, with their How-To’s on Natural Hair Care. Since the beginning of 2008, young women of color hit the ‘Hair Boards’. Exchanging vital information on their hair care. They built an online community of fertile ground. Providing support, pictures, and challenges to grow, long Natural Hair. Relaxed and Natural combined, went to the books, and became scientists in their own right. Observing hair products and their effect on their hair. Taking notes and re-working their ‘HAIR REGIMENS’. The language began to form as women had codes of growth like NL, BSL, WL (neck length, bra strap length, and waist length). Embracing new terminology that represented turning points in their journeys, like “transitioning”, “cowashing”, and “the big chop”. These began as sprinkled, viral seeds. For as the community grew, the view counts grew as well, providing wealth to shower into the laps of young, women of color. Now there is a platform that serves the community, providing lost information. Those who are thirsty for the knowledge of the versatility of their Natural Hair, have a firm ground to begin their own Hair Journey.
New Media has brought forth a different path. As alternate media rises, it continues to enrich those who seek it. The rise of the natural hair care movement alongside that of the conscious community is to be acknowledged as they do parallel. And the question arises, if whether the culture that thirsts to survive will learn to thrive after-all? What it seems to take, is first, the thirst. The thirst that will overcome the fears, and live unapologetically natural for it desires the love and nurture of the knowledge. The knowledge of self will free the dome from its own imprisonment.
And as the curls bounce out and stretch like the branches of the tree out to the sun, the roots dig deep and hold the earth, holding all as one. Combining the higher learning with the consistent practice of applying water and nurture, we find we resemble nature. We can water our own thirsty roots. We can build an empire. A Nation of families that once we lost, but now have found.
Through each hair journey, we plant on fertilized ground. Curl Culture is rising. As the roots begin to be watered. We quench the thirst to learn about our origins. We learn about the strength of our KINKY CURLY HAIR and what it has endured. We begin to nurture the bond that was broken once before. The business of Black hair is a multi-million dollar one; that is ours to take when we want. And as we grow we encompass inner wealth. This beautiful movement is rooted in the womb of self-love.
For me personally, it has truly been wonderful to be apart of. Being a self-proclaimed ‘HAIRLISTA’, I learned how to take care of my natural hair growth while still being under the perm. I learned the science of my hair and how to embrace it fully. As I became more acquainted with my natural new growth, I could not continue the process of adding harsh chemicals to my beautiful new curls. I began a journey of letting go of my own blocks that kept me from accepting my natural hair. Breaking my own cycle of self-hate practices. And now I have begun the journey transitioning to natural hair and enjoying it every step of the way. Please feel free to join me as I journey down this path by following me on Instagram @VenusCurls
Whenever you see a young woman of color embracing her natural hair, I encourage you to be the catalyst of love in her environment and remind her that she is beautiful.